LeBron James leaving the Heat to return to the Cavaliers in free agency was certainly a surprise, but it would have been downright shocking had he done so after winning a second straight NBA title.
Miami was crushed by the Spurs in the NBA Finals, however, which likely made LeBron’s decision to leave that much easier.
But make no mistake — the outcome of that championship series had a huge impact on LeBron’s decision. So much so, in fact, that James himself has no trouble admitting that things might have turned out differently had Miami been able to three-peat as champions.
LeBron James concedes it would’ve been much harder for him to return to the Cavaliers had the Miami Heat won a third consecutive championship in June, he told CNN’s Unguarded with Rachel Nichols in an upcoming episode.
“It’s a greater chance, for sure,” James said. “It would be hard to leave back-to-back-to-back championships and try to go for four. But obviously you really can’t live and think of what may have happened. I’ve always been a person kind of live in the moment.”
Honestly, this is nothing more than common sense.
Had the Heat managed to win last season’s championship, there would have been no reason for LeBron to return to Cleveland so soon. He would have rightfully believed that his best chance to win was with Miami, and it would have been extremely difficult to abandon a team that just won three straight titles, when the opportunity to win four in a row would have been too tempting to pass up.
But after seeing his Heat so thoroughly dismantled by the Spurs in the championship round, and with no options for real roster improvement on the horizon, the choice to return home to Cleveland was made that much easier.
Report: No second bubble, scrimmages or practices for other eight NBA teams
There is growing belief among the NBA’s eight franchises not in Orlando that a second bubble site being built for minicamps and intrasquad scrimmages will not happen, sources tell The Athletic. There is pessimism about in-market minicamps for group workouts happening as well.
“There’s nothing happening,” one GM told The Athletic after a Tuesday call between the eight GMs and league officials. “It’s a shame. It’s a huge detriment to these eight franchises that were left behind.”
I’m so sick of some of these eight teams whining. They’re not playing because they weren’t good enough to qualify for the resumption. Deal with it. Every year, some teams get eliminated before others. This is different in degree, not kind.
That wouldn’t necessarily be the case for the other eight teams. Maybe there’s value in fulfilling local TV contracts, but the remaining games are a poor product. Scrimmages and practices would be even less marketable. Impending free agents especially have little reason to care about continuing.
I understand why many of the eight teams want to do something. But it’s probably just not worth it.
Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. out for season with torn left meniscus
Even with the short offseason, Jackson should be ready to play at the start of next season.
This is a serious blow to the Grizzlies, who are 0-3 in the bubble and now just lost their best player through those three games. He has been the best source of offense for the Grizzlies in the bubble, feasting on defenders who cannot match his speed.
Jackson, a 6’11” big out of Michigan State, averaged 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds a game this season, shooting 39.4% from three. He’s still developing, but he looks like a classic modern big — can protect the rim, can post up or make plays from the elbow, and can shoot the three — who is developing a strong chemistry with Ja Morant. They could be the cornerstones of the Grizzlies’ future.
First, Jackson has to get healthy.
Watch Devin Booker drain turnaround game-winner to beat Clippers
Ivica Zubac opened the door for Booker to win it. The Suns had the ball with 31 seconds to go and the Clippers — Kawhi Leonard in particular — defended it well, forcing Ricky Rubio into a difficult, high-arcing shot he missed. Zubac did a good job grabbing the rebound, but then he hurried the outlet pass and Mikal Bridges tipped it, Deandre Ayton grabbed it, and the Suns got to reset and take one more shot.
Devin Booker took the final shot, a game-winner. That man is a problem.
Obviously, Milwaukee is way better than Brooklyn overall. But the Bucks didn’t have much incentive to chase a victory. They’ve already all but clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Starters Brook Lopez and Wesley Matthews didn’t play. Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton didn’t play in the second half.
That created an opening for the Nets, who blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead then rallied to win.
What they lacked in talent, both teams made up for in effort – and feistiness.
Antetokounmpo was restrained from Brooklyn big Donta Hall after getting knocked down during a second-quarter tussle for a rebound: